Women's Rights & Movements in IranFacts on State-Sponsored Violence Against Iranian Women

Facts on State-Sponsored Violence Against Iranian Women


Most violence against Iranian women is perpetrated by state agents, according to the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and here were will run down exactly how.

Violence Against Human Rights Activists

Female human rights defenders are regularly subjected to state-sponsored violence, with the authorities only intensifying its crackdown in recent years, viewing all human rights as threats to national security and failing to abide by the rights enshrined by the United Nations.

Human rights defenders are routinely subjected to:

  • torture
  • mock executions
  • denial of medical care
  • violence
  • sleep deprivation
  • arbitrary arrest
  • unfair trials
  • the violent dispersal of protests
  • travel bans
  • harassment of their relatives

Furthermore, human rights lawyers are routinely arrested to prevent them from defending their clients.

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Violent Arbitrary Arrests

The security apparatus arrests anyone who opposes them, using the State Security Force (SSF), the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the paramilitary Bassij, and even universities’ disciplinary committees to restrict freedom of thought, expression, and gathering.

Many women are arrested violently in public or at their houses, without legal warrants, and over the past year have been kept in prisons that do not meet minimum hygienic requirements at any time, let alone during a pandemic.

Here are just some of those arrested in 2020:

  • Melika Gharagozlou
  • Saba Azarpake
  • Maryam Khoshandam
  • Farzaneh Jalali
  • Roghieh Hassanzadeh
  • Somayyeh Namadmal
  • Zohreh Sarv
  • Kowsar Karimi
  • Parizad Hamidi

Iranian Women Lack Access to Justice

Political prisoners and many ordinary prisoners do not have access to justice, with legal proceedings failing to conform to their own laws, let alone international ones. Often, they are placed in solitary and forced to make false confessions under torture with no contact with the outside world, let alone a lawyer.

Many go on hunger strike in the hope of getting a lawyer.

Treatment of Political Prisoners

In addition, political prisoners are routinely brutalized as the authorities hope to gain false confessions, cooperation, or information. If this violence fails, then they deprive the prisoner of medical treatment or have ordinary prisoners harass them.

The Women’s Committee has issued several statements about this over the past year, especially the cases of:

  • Zahra Safaei, who was threatened in June by several inmates hired by the Intelligence Ministry, attacked in August by two inmates and denied treatment for a heart stroke in October.
  • Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, who is deprived of visits with her political prisoner and cancer patient husband, Arash Sadeghi, and was summoned by the IRGC Intelligence to undergo interrogations for a new case filed against her.

Execution of Women in Iran

Iran is the world leader in the execution of women, with 109 women executed since 2013, despite the fact that many were domestic abuse victims with no legal recourse against their husbands (i.e. divorce or imprisonment).

Most of the women executed are themselves victims of domestic violence and discriminatory family laws. Many acts in self-defense against mistreatment by their husbands and a system that miserably fails to protect them.

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The death sentences are issued at the end of unfair, closed-door trials coupled with torture to force prisoners into making confessions.

In a letter published on July 27, 2019, political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, addressed the issue of women convicted of murder and sentenced to death:

“In meeting women convicted of murder, I learned that a large percentage of them had murdered their husbands —instantly or based on a premeditated plan—after years of being humiliated, insulted, battered, and even tortured by them and because of being deprived of their right to divorce. Although, they consider themselves criminals but are convinced that if any of their repeated appeals for divorce had been granted, they would not have committed such a crime.”

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